By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 3:07 pm
The TechCrunch Disrupt show has filled a sizable San Francisco conference center to the brim with tech startups. They aren’t all, um, winners. (If I see one more Foursquare variant predicated on the idea that we all spend 98% of our time thinking about our favorite stores and brands, I’m going to run from the building screaming.) But there’s some good stuff, too. One I like is Qwiki, a still-in-private-alpha service whose creators include Louis Monier, one of the inventors of search engines.
Qwiki’s inventors are demoing both a Web-based version of the service and a rough draft of an iPad one here at the show. Type in the name of something you want to learn about (I chose “Boston University”) and Qwiki creates an animated slideshow about it, with photos and the occasional factoid zipping about. It also uses text-to-speech technology and information sources such as Wikipedia to tell you about the topic in a voice that’s robotic, but only slightly so. On the Web-based version, you can click on the images and factoids to hop from one Qwiki to another.
I’m not sure if I agree with TechCrunch’s MG Siegler that Qwiki may be “the future of information consumption,” but it’s intriguing at least–the basic idea is rife with potential. You can sign up at the Qwiki site to get early access.